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How to install mods for Skyrim Special Edition on PC

Bethesda has re-released Skyrim for every electronic device in living history, including the trusty microwave. As for the Special Edition on PC, many wondered why the company even bothered since graphics are only marginally better, but what makes this latest version so good is the addition of 64-bit support. This unlocks the full potential of Skyrim and its modding community, enabling for a more stable experience. We'll show you how to install mods and completely change Skyrim.

Products used in this guide

How to install mods for Skyrim Special Edition

In this guide, we'll be using Vortex (previously called Nexus Mod Manager), which is universally recommended to keep things organized and to make installing larger packages an absolute breeze. Nexus is a dedicated platform for modders to release and update their mods for various titles, including Skyrim Special Edition. As well as publishing their content, Nexus also enables for discussion, feedback, support, and more. The website is fairly easy to navigate with most mods correctly categorized for convenient filtering.

Installing Vortex

  1. Register an account on the Nexus website.
  2. Download Vortex (Nexus Mod Manager).
  3. Install and then run Vortex.
  4. Click on Dashboard.

Vortex (Image credit: Windows Central)
  1. Select Scan for missing games.
  2. Click on Settings.

  1. Select the Mods tab.
  2. Set where you want mods to be installed.

We need to run Skyrim SE to the main menu before activating mods, so give the game a boot to initial menu (through Steam) and then quit. This will create the much-needed .ini file for editing and will ensure we don't run into issues with mods not working correctly at a later date.

Installing Mods

Vortex

Now it's time to select and install some mods. We rounded up some of our favorite Skyrim mods to get you started.

  1. Search for mods on the Nexus website.
  2. Carefully read through the description of each mod.
  3. Choose the Files tab.

  1. Select "Mod Manager Download" on the correct file(s) you need for the mod.
  2. Wait for the mods to download in Vortex.
  3. Select a mod you wish to install and choose "Install".

Once you have a few mods downloaded you may notice the load order start to populate. This list is important because some mods and files need to be loaded by the game in a specific order. Mod authors generally offer information in mod descriptions on the Nexus should their files require to be configured in a set order, and there are even tools available like LOOT that can check to see if there are any problems with your setup.

Modders create and release extra content for fun and for the love of scripting, but leaving an endorsement or even a donation can provide much-needed feedback, especially if you've enjoyed hours of entertainment because of said mod(s). Leaving a few dollars can really make their day, but do consider at least leaving a comment and endorsing their work. Skyrim wouldn't be the same without its excellent modding community.

What you'll need to mod Skyrim

You're going to need a copy of Skyrim Special Edition.

Skyrim offers hundreds of hours worth of entertainment, which can be further expanded through the installation of mods. Whether you enjoy wielding massive axes, conjuring deadly spells or sneaking around and silencing your foes, there's a playstyle for everyone to enjoy, allowing anyone to craft their own adventure in this massive fantasy world.

XFX Radeon RX 5700 (opens in new tab) ($350 at Amazon)

The AMD Radeon RX 5700 is the new mid-range card that offers high levels of performance at a more affordable price. If you plan on modding Skyrim, you'll need a GPU like this to handle more heavy installations.

Rich Edmonds
Rich Edmonds

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.